(Looking at Bill Hammond’s Traffic Cop Bay)
My mother admires the threads
of glaze that slide down the canvas. She
tried it herself once – let the paint drip…
‘The bird heads are
wonderful. Tufts of blue where
A tui might…’
(She’s looking at her dogwood;
its white flowers,
imagining watercolour) I think of
glow-worms, bright strings in the dark.
The reproduction in her book
fills two pages. A man-bird
has a rifle hidden
in the binding. Below him
in the water, a man-shaped target,
waiting. My mother saw this painting once;
recalls its size, the birds, their silhouettes,
the smaller winged shapes flying.
We drink tea and I watch
fantails dart and tumble
in the dogwood.
who came to trim back branches
knew the genus, cornus florida,
had never seen one in a garden.
My mother told me later – this one fact
compensating for her eyes
mistaking wings for petals,
and the bird shapes and their islands
forever green-blue blurring,
closed inside the book.